Offshore renewables can play a key role in harnessing the benefits of the blue economy for sustainable development in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera, at the Our Oceans conference held in the western Pacific nation of Palau.
Aimed at highlighting the plight of nations on the frontline of climate change as they grapple with rising sea levels, the two-day conference with over 500 delegates from more than 80 nations taking part, including co-host John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.
Speaking at a high-level panel discussion themed Creating Sustainable Blue Economies, Mr. La Camera said for SIDS and other vulnerable island nations, the development of the ocean economy holds considerable promise. “Offshore renewables can benefit all sectors of the economy, including tourism, shipping, aquaculture, agriculture, and water desalination,” he added.
Upscaling offshore renewables, including wind, wave, and tidal energy, may also bring major benefits for small island nations in terms of climate change mitigation as well as reduce dependency on fossil fuels imports, Mr. La Camera pointed out.
“Offshore energy systems are well suited to be located near aquaculture farms, as these often consist of a floating structure that is commonly tethered to the seafloor, which could be directly integrated into the aquaculture system,” he added, citing successful case studies from France and Scotland. Presenting the key highlights from IRENA’s recently launched World Energy Transitions Outlook 2022, Mr. La Camera stressed the urgency for strong climate action and the need to accelerate the deployment of renewables. “The 1.5℃ goal is going to vanish soon if we do not dramatically change the way we do business. We need to urgently work toward replacing coal with renewables and increase the deployment of renewables by three times every year. We see renewable energy providing 65% of the total electricity supply by 2030, respectively from over 25% in 2018,” he said.
Many small island nations have demonstrated an increasing interest in harnessing the opportunities of ocean energy technologies in the recent past. “We see more and more islands across the Caribbean and the Pacific developing strategies and conducting feasibility studies to integrate offshore renewables in their national energy plans. There has never been a better time for renewable energy deployment and development to drive the ocean economy of SIDS, in an achievable and sustainable manner,” he added.